By Kim Willsher, The Guardian
Five years ago, Jeanne Pouchain was declared dead by a French court. It was news to her – and just the beginning of a Kafkaesque nightmare.
The trouble began in 2016. When Jeanne Pouchain’s passport application was declined, she was annoyed – but assumed she must have forgotten an important piece of paperwork.
Several weeks later, at a doctor’s appointment in her town of Saint-Joseph, outside Lyon in south-east France, both Pouchain, then 53, and her GP were perplexed when his computer spat out her carte vitale, the green card that gives access to the French public health system. Pouchain put it down to a technical blip. She assumed that was also the reason her pharmacy suggested she would have to pay in full for her diabetes drugs.
It seemed like a series of annoying coincidences; the kind of red tape many in France find themselves tangled up in at one time or another in a country notorious for bureaucracy. It was irritating but would, she assumed, eventually be resolved.